What puts you to sleep?
I bet the answer to this question will vary from one person to the other. For me, I like total darkness, comfy pillow, and believe it or not, the constant sound of AC, which I’ve grown to appreciate as a way of eliminating little on-off noises from around the building. On top of that, when I’m in the mood, nothing beats a good playlist of pure and peaceful ambient music.
I first came to discover this wonderful style of music back in 2007, when I accidentally stumbled on a great site called Ambient Nights. Not knowing what this style of music was all about, I decided to give it a try and downloaded few of the mixes, created by Alex Hephaestion. I was in the middle of preparing a public speech at the time, my first one ever, and while researching my material, I would put these mixes on.
To my surprise, these mixes magically helped me focus and zone into my work in a weird but awesome way. I said weird because when you’re listening to ambient music, the idea is not to listen intently, but in a passive way. You just let it play in the background, and it’ll do its thing. This is best described by Brian Eno, one of the most influential artists in this genre and the one believed to have coined the term “ambient music“, who was quoted describing it as the kind of music that can be “actively listened to with attention or as easily ignored, depending on the choice of the listener”, and that exists on the “cusp between melody and texture”.
Not all ambient music is created equal. Over the years since my discovery, I’ve been curating my collection of ambient music that’s truly relaxing and in no way disturbing or weighs too much on the dark side. I think all that boils down to what you’re going to listen to in this 1 hour mix.
But mixing this style of music has proved a little challenging for me. When I sat out to create this mix, I wanted a mix that’s perfect to sleep to. This is easier said than done, because when you’re trying to sleep to music, the slightest off beat or melody can wake you up. So the mix must flow seamlessly from start to finish, and not have any surprises in the middle since the person listening to it might, and most likely will, drift off in the middle.
Also while creating this mix, it’s not just enough to make sure tracks flow seamlessly into each other. You’ve got to listen over and over to the entire mix to make sure you’re setting and maintaining the right mood, in this case sleeping mode, throughout the mix.
Overall, I think I’ve done a pretty good job with this one. I’ve even took it for a spin and tried sleeping to it. After a few tweaks, I think I’ve managed to perfect it. Well, at least I hope you do think so.
Let me know what you think of it in the comments.
Aside from sleeping like a baby, which is the main inspiration for creating this mix, you can put it on whenever you need to quite down your mind and world to an absolutely serene level. It also works magically like I said at work, blocking outside noises but still managing to keep you focused and not distracted by the music. That’s the sweet spot of work music, isn’t it? :)
But remember, the best way to listen to this mix, and ambient music in general, is to not listen to it, if you know what I mean. That’s when the magic happens!
- Danny Elfman – Friendship (The Kingdom OST)
- Brian Eno – The Real
- Christopher Short – Twilight
- Aeolian String Ensemble – Eclipse
- Sven Väth – Ballet Dancer
- David Brunn – Crater Lake (Hephaestion Edit)
- Chris Spheeris – Passage
- ATB – Under The Sky
- David – Ruhe
- Harold Budd, Brian Eno – Failing Light
- Mind Over Matter – Brahman
- Byron Metcalf, Mark Seelig, Steve Roach – Gone…Beyond
- Transambient Communications – Ocean Waves At Sunset
- Moby – Overland